Seattle Sports Hell’s Gambling Corner: Week 13

Go ahead and check out my last gambling post to see where I went right and horribly, horribly wrong (thanks a lot, Green Bay). As I noted before, I’m going to Vegas in T-Minus two weeks, so I’m ramping up my gambling thoughts in the hopes of winning lots of monies.

I’m gonna go ahead and walk my way through the games, to see if maybe I can coalesce my thoughts into something resembling a coherent plan.

Right off the bat, I love Green Bay -6.5 at the Giants. I think that’s going to be a total walk-over and would gladly put a good chunk of change on the line as is. There’s also ample teaser opportunity (bringing the line down to GB -0.5, aka they just have to win by any score) that I’m hoping to pair with something a little later.

Speaking of teasers, I’m seeing three games with even 10-point lines, and I’m wondering which of the three teams screws me here: Carolina at home over Washington, Kansas City at home over Oakland, and Philly on the road at Miami. A three-team tease makes all of those games pick ’ems, so I ask again: who screws me here? The best of the underdogs would be Oakland – so that’s the obvious choice – but the Chiefs are coming off of a BYE, they should be fully healthy, and I just can’t see them blowing this. Of course, the more I think about it, the more I recall Kansas City’s defense is the absolute worst, but I’m sticking by them anyway. The worst team among the favorites might actually be Philly, and I think that’s the one that scares me the most. Their defense has picked it up in a big way, so there’s always the opportunity for them to pick off Fitzpatrick a bunch of times. But, I’m never one to shy away from a bad team.

So, here’s my 3-team tease: Carolina down to a pick ’em, Kansas City down to a pick ’em, and Miami to +20. Lock it in!

Next up: my Tampa Bay obsession! When I wrote about the Bucs last time, it looked like Vegas had finally corrected things with the over/unders here, boosting it to 54. The bettors apparently took my advice to finally go with the under, and the line eventually ended up moving down to around 51 points, which is only a 3-point difference, but looks oddly comforting when faced with the prospect of betting the over. Had I been in Vegas and seen the line at 51, I certainly would’ve bet the over and won yet again (that’s at least four weeks in a row their game has gone over). This time, at Jacksonville, the Bucs are favored by 1.5 points, so give me that line all day. Separately, the over/under is only 47, so let’s run it back with the OVER! Make that my lock of the week; easiest money on the board this week.

Also, go ahead and parlay the 1.5 with the over and thank me later.

There are a ton of home underdogs this week, including all of the afternoon games and the Sunday Night game. The Rams are favored at Arizona by 3 points, and while I like the Rams (and am tempted to bet them as is), what I like even more is the over/under of 47.5. Give me the OVER. Arizona’s defense is pretty crappy – this feels like a Get Right game for the Rams’ beleaguered offense – and the Cards have proven (particularly with their games against the 49ers) that they can score against top defenses. So, the over feels pretty lock-ish.

The Chargers are also favored by 3 at Denver. This is probably a stay-away for me, but if anything I kinda like the Broncos. Welcome back to Underdog Watch! And, not for nothing, but Cleveland is favored by 2 at Pittsburgh. There’s a big revenge-game factor flowing throughout this one, and call me crazy, but I don’t buy this Browns resurgence. So, here’s what we’re gonna do: let’s tease the Broncos to +9 and the Steelers to +8. Couple of quality defenses, at home, in divisional matchups; I like these both to at least stay close. I could also be tempted into parlaying both of these teams to win on the money line, but let’s keep that to a smallish amount.

Last week, my Irrational Homer Pick totally and completely backfired. The Packers were just a TERRIBLE pick on my part. So, I’m flip-flopping! The Ravens are at home and they’re favored by 5.5 points over the 49ers. The Seahawks, obviously, need the 49ers to lose. So, were I in Vegas right now, I’d be putting my money on the 49ers to cover. I’d also be putting a little on the 49ers to win outright! Either I lose my money and the Seahawks benefit, or I win both bets and feel shitty collecting my winnings.

And, before I forget, here’s what I’m looking at for my Packers tease: bring Green Bay down to -0.5, and pair that with the Bengals! Andy Dalton is back, the Jets are on the road, this feels like the perfect opportunity to put money on another home underdog. The Jets are favored by 3, and nothing about that feels right. So, let’s bring the Bengals up to +9 and have ourselves a day!

Here’s the part of the post I call Steven’s Stay-Aways. I’m staying away from Indy -2.5 at home against Tennessee (gun to my head, I say Indy covers); I’m staying away from New England -3 at Houston (gun to my head, give me the Pats). Everything else is in play this week, which is fun!

In doing another sweep of the over/unders, I like KC/Oakland over 51, I like Baltimore/SF over 46, and I kinda like GB/Giants over 45 (but probably not enough to put much down on it).

Finally, give me ALL the Seahawks -3 at home on Monday Night against the Vikings. I think it’ll be a rout.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2019: The Final Nail In The Coffin

Space Pirates won’t be making the playoffs. Again, to reiterate, the top 6 teams out of 10 make the playoffs in our league, and I won’t be one of them.

It’s just too much to overcome at this point. Even in losing to Space Forcin’ last week, I would’ve had a shot if certain teams had lost. Instead, they won, and now I would not only have to win this week, but two teams would have to lose, and I’d have to outscore them by well over 100 points … it’s over. It’s just over and I have to accept that and move on.

Let’s see here, where to begin. Well, Tom Brady stunk. He came up with an elbow injury last week, and threw all of one touchdown pass against the Cowboys to put up a measly 15.20 points. Carson Wentz against the Seahawks was even worse, getting me only 9.50 points. The Jets routed the Raiders, and yet Jamison Crowder (predictably, because I finally started him) caught only 2 balls for 18 yards. I could go on and on, but what’s the point? This officially makes it 10 out of 12 weeks where I’ve underperformed expectations. Yahoo likes my team MUCH more than reality, and there’s nothing I can do to change that.

I’ve fallen (and I can’t get up) to 5-7 on the season. This week was as brutal a drubbing as you’ll see, losing 182.72 – 114.10. I’m in 8th place, I have the 8th-most points scored, it’s just an impossibly-bad season any way you slice it. I’ve fallen apart since week 3 of the season.

***

No major moves this week. I tried picking up Kyle Allen, but my waiver priority prevented me. Someone had waived JuJu Smith-Schuster over the weekend as well, but again I was thwarted. I ended up putting a claim in for Minnesota’s running back, who shall be named on this blog if he eventually becomes the starter there. As a lottery pick, if Dalvin Cook gets hurt or otherwise starts a major holdout this offseason, he’s not a bad one. At this point, my moves will be all about preventing other teams from having viable keepers for next year, so the pool for me to choose from (and eventually draft from) will be larger.

I dropped Crowder on his fucking worthless ass, because I should’ve stuck to my original thought all along: no more than one Jets player in my lineup at a time.

***

I’m going up against The Lance Petemans, the last place team in the league. He’s the guy I traded Tom Brady away from, so you don’t even have to wonder if he’s going to beat me with my own players, because it’s happening. Nick Foles is hosting the hapless Tampa Bay defense, and Tyreek Hill figures to return from his injury after resting it during the BYE week.

I, on the other hand, have no reason for optimism. Thankfully, when I’m eliminated from the playoffs, I’ll get Week 14 off, so as to not have to think about fantasy football whatsoever. It’s going to be a dream-come-buttfucking-true.

Huskies Need To Fire Bush Hamdan; Jacob Eason Needs To Move On

BURN IT ALL TO THE MOTHERFUCKING GROUND.

Or, you know, just those two things.

I’ve spent the better part of the 2019 season bashing Hamdan and defending Eason, but at this point they both just need to go away. With Hamdan, it’s obvious: he just doesn’t know how to call plays. I’m not saying that I would do a better job, because I’m a nobody college football fan. But, I know someone who TOTALLY SUCKS when I see him, and Bush Hamdan is among the worst play-callers and designers-of-offenses I’ve ever seen, and I had to suffer through Jeremy Bates with the Seahawks in 2010!

Now, obviously, the offensive coordinator is the usual whipping boy for every single football team that’s ever existed. But, I don’t remember Husky fans complaining NEARLY as much about Jonathan Smith when he was here. Let’s look at the numbers:

  • 2014 – 30.2 points per game, 56th in college football
  • 2015 – 30.6 points per game, 54th in college football
  • 2016 – 41.8 points per game, 8th in college football
  • 2017 – 36.2 points per game, 17th in college football

That’s all you really need to know about Jonathan Smith’s tenure. Now, on to Bush:

  • 2018 – 26.4 points per game, 89th in college football
  • 2019 – 31.5 points per game, 47th in college football

That’s bad-to-mediocre. I would argue in 2014 & 2015, those were rebuilding years where we were saddled with the previous regime’s players and breaking in a Freshman quarterback (respectively). By 2018 & 2019, we’re well established in the Chris Petersen regime, and should have no trouble putting up points. Oregon State scores more than we do this year, which is where Jonathan Smith is now head coaching, and it should tell you all you need to know about how pathetic this offense has been under Bush’s watch.

But, this year hasn’t been solely his fault. Jacob Eason is a 5-star prospect, and will be drafted in the first round or two in the NFL very soon based on his promise, but he’s not a good quarterback, full stop. He has a cannon of an arm, and he’s 6’6, so he’s literally everything the NFL wants out of a signal caller. But, he can’t run, and in the game today, if you’re not mobile, you’re automatically a liability (as it’s taking longer for NFL linemen to get up to speed than ever before). He’s also just medium-accurate at 63.5% this year (with a fair number of drops contributing to this number, I’ll admit). But, he has absolutely NO touch on his deep balls, which I find remarkable. He’s consistently over-throwing even our fastest receivers, and he puts too much mustard on even the intermediate-deep passes that should be completed for chunk plays. If you think of Russell Wilson’s rainbow arcs as the ideal for deep passing, Eason can seemingly only throw balls on a direct line, which necessitates him being PERFECTLY accurate to complete anything beyond 20 yards (which he rarely is).

I saw so many terribly-thrown balls in the Colorado game that, at this point, it’s just time to cut our losses and try someone new in 2020. Even if we have to go through another season of growing pains, so be it. I just don’t see the point in running it back with Eason again. Is he going to improve so dramatically at everything he sucks at? I mean, he doesn’t REALLY want to be here; he settled for Washington after it didn’t work out at Georgia. It should be a pretty clear red flag that someone who couldn’t keep a true freshman from taking his job with the Bulldogs wouldn’t be the type of guy to take Washington back to the playoffs. Plus, I mean, Jake Haener really took him down to the wire in training camp, and he had to settle for Fresno State when he transferred! It’s not like Washington’s receivers are going to be improved enough to blanket over Eason’s flaws (John Ross isn’t walking through that door anytime soon). And either we’ll have Year 3 with Bush Hamdan’s terrible scheme, or Year 1 with someone new, and therefore a whole new set of growing pains to work through.

If that’s the case, and it’s a new offensive coordinator, I’d rather he start fresh with a new quarterback so they can grow in the system together.

The bottom line is the Huskies are 6-5 and it’s all the offense’s fault. Not really, but give me this one. Washington has been trash against trash opponents and this year is a total, unmitigated embarrassment. I mean, what even was that Colorado game?! We should’ve beaten them by 30! Instead, we lost to a team that isn’t even going to make a bowl game. For anyone who’s counting, that’s TWO losses to teams who won’t be playing in bowl games (along with Stanford).

The only silver lining to this weekend is that Oregon lost. I know that drastically reduces our chances of a Pac-12 team making the playoffs – with Utah running the table being our only minor hope – but fuck it. Fuck the Ducks. Let them continue to suffer in obscurity!

This week, we have a Friday-After-Thanksgiving Apple Cup. Not my favorite scheduling day of the season, but I’ll try to knock off work early and get home in time for the second half. The Cougs already won their sixth game, so this game is effectively meaningless. But, it’s still the Apple Cup. State pride is on the line.

I have to admit, though, getting up for this one will be tough. I mean, if we HAD to lose to the Cougs, I’d rather lose here as opposed to in a season where the Rose Bowl is on the line, for instance.

But, I keep thinking of Mike Leach’s predictable offense going up against our Jimmy Lake-led defense and I know everything will be all right. The players change, but Leach stays the same, and as such it should be one of the few smooth Husky victories of 2019.

The Seahawks Should’ve Killed The Eagles, Had To Settle For A Mild Drubbing

Kind of a weird game, but for the Seahawks that’s normal … so kind of a normal game.

At one point, the Seahawks should’ve been up 21-3, that’s what I do know. The Seahawks gave up the early field goal, then immediately marched right down the field, and four plays later – thanks to a trick play that went toss to the running back, lateral back to Wilson, deep ball to Malik Turner – went up 7-3. Then, a little later in the first half, the Seahawks marched down the field again and got all the way to Philly’s 6-yard line. Wilson scrambled around in the pocket and had Jacob Hollister wide open, but somehow overthrew him with no defenders between the two. That was as easy of a touchdown as you’ll see, but it wasn’t meant to be. Then, right before half, at the Philly 38, Wilson had D.K. Metcalf wide open down the middle, but he dropped the ball and we opted to punt.

This game should’ve been over at halftime, but instead we let them hang around, not really putting it away until there was about 12 minutes left in the game when we scored the TD to put us up 17-3. Even then, it wasn’t REALLY over, but the Eagles couldn’t do anything against our defense, until scrounging up a garbage-time touchdown late to pull it to the final of 17-9 (going for 2 for some unknown reason).

We learned two key things in this game. #1 – we learned that Russell Wilson has effectively played himself out of the MVP race. It’s not totally his fault, but with another pick and that missed connection to Hollister, he’s not off the hook either. Fair is fair, though, and these receivers – mostly just D.K. Metcalf – are dropping way too many highlight reel passes, thus keeping Wilson off of Sportscenter, thus leaving space for other contenders to shine. Ultimately, it’s Lamar Jackson’s award to lose; Wilson had to be as perfect as can be to keep up, and I just don’t know if he has it in him. It’s a bitter pill, to be sure, but sometimes destiny just gets in the way.

The second thing we learned in this one is that the defense might be back, and at the most perfect time!

I’ll be the first to admit, I was medium-worried heading into this one, with the news that Jadeveon Clowney wasn’t going to play with a hip injury. Hip injuries, by the way, are the second-most-annoying injuries an NFL player can have, behind turf toe (and just ahead of oblique strain). The fact that he came out of the 49ers game banged up isn’t really surprising, because that was as tough and physical a game as I’ve ever seen a one-man-wrecking-crew undertake. But, that he’s still injured even after a BYE week is more than a little concerning. I mean, let’s face it, ALL of our games going forward are Must Win; we can’t slip up even a little bit with the 49ers playing as well as they are. So, you know we need him, you know he wants to play, and that he is unable to really makes me wonder how long we’re going to be looking at this.

Also, even if he returns at some point, how much will it affect him the rest of the way?

The cool thing is, the Seahawks didn’t need him in this one, because everyone else showed up in a big way.

This wasn’t a one-man show. Damn near every guy on the defense made at least one impact play. Wright and Kendricks were blankets over the guys they were responsible for; Tre Flowers had 3 passes defended and a pick. McDougald had a pick. Diggs recovered a fumble. I’m pretty sure Shaquill Griffin forced a fumble. Shaquem Griffin had a couple QB hits and was a menace in pass rush. Rasheem Green had a sack and a couple QB hits. Ziggy Freakin’ Ansah finally showed up to play! He had 1.5 sacks and I want to say a forced fumble as well! Jarran Reed had half a sack before going out with an ankle. Poona Ford and Al Woods were in the backfield all day. I mean, you name him, and he made something happen!

The Eagles rushed for 106 yards on 23 carries, but it hardly mattered, because Carson Wentz was the god damned devil. We held him to 256 yards passing (80 of which came on that garbage-time touchdown drive at the end) on 33/45, most of those being of the short-to-intermediate variety. So, in other words, he played right into our hands of what we want to do defensively. We also picked him off twice and sacked him 3 times, but that doesn’t tell the whole story, because we were living in his grill the entire game (10 QB hits total).

Now, obviously, the Eagles are as banged up as can be. Their top three receivers are out, their right tackle was hurt, and their top two running backs were gone. This was a M.A.S.H. unit on offense, and the Seahawks took advantage. You could argue that’s why our defense looked so elite, and make a case that we AREN’T back yet, but I’ve seen this defense look pretty mediocre against a worse set of offensive “talent”, so I’m not buying that at all. The Eagles still boast two great tight ends and they had enough guys to get things done (especially since their defense has also turned a corner after some early-season struggles).

Nope, I’m saying here and now that the Seahawks’ defense will be fine. It won’t be Top 10 or anything, but it will be what we need it to be.

If anything, I think we need to start worrying about D.K. Metcalf. He had at least two or three balls fall off his hands in this one. Granted, they would’ve been remarkable plays, but those are passes he needs to catch if he’s going to be an impact player in this offense. I know he’s a rookie and everything, but this is a team fighting for a Super Bowl opportunity. If he’s hitting a Rookie Wall, that’s going to be dangerous for us heading into the home stretch. I don’t WANT to have to depend on Josh Gordon to be that guy for us (he had 1 catch for 10 yards on 2 targets in this one, as he slowly acclimates into our offense), but we may have no choice. This is two drop-heavy games in a row for Metcalf, I’ll be very interested in how he responds.

Also, Jesus Christ, Chris Carson, you’re killing me! He had back-to-back fumbles in this one (the second one we lost at a key juncture late in the game, when we could’ve put the game away), and this just isn’t going to go away, is it? I will reiterate what I said earlier this season: DO NOT EXTEND CARSON BEYOND HIS ROOKIE CONTRACT! If he holds out next year, so fucking be it. Draft someone to replace him and let’s move on with our lives. Also, he better NOT fucking hold out, because with this fumbling problem (on top of his prior injury problem), he’s going to need a bounce-back season in 2020 just to prove he’s reliable! No team is going to give a fumbler a high-money deal! Not even the Jets!

Rashaad Penny made the notion of benching Carson a lot easier with his 129 yards on 14 carries, with a 58-yard breakaway touchdown in the second half. I do agree with Salk on this one – that Penny isn’t as good out of shotgun as he is in a traditional single-back formation – so I hope that we can introduce more of those plays into our offense. Some of Marshawn Lynch’s best runs came out of plays with Wilson under center, so I don’t know why we can’t bring more of that back into our offense (it also sets up the play-action even better than it does out of shotgun).

Everything about this game smacked of 2013 Seahawks: low scoring, defense-heavy, grind it out and get the W any way you can. We’re 9-2, still a game out of first, with a Monday Night contest against the Vikings (coming off of their own BYE) to look forward to at CenturyLink Field. I can’t think of a better way to kick off December 2019.

Is This Where The Seahawks Start To Take Their Season To The Next Level?

We talk about it all the time: the Seahawks are excellent closers. They tend to play pretty well at the end of games, and they tend to play pretty well at the end of seasons.

In futzing around with Pro Football Reference, I discovered that the Seahawks aren’t quite as elite as we think they are in one-score (8 points or less) regular season games in the Russell Wilson era, with a record of 36-32-1. But, nevertheless, Wilson has built his career on end-of-game comebacks, so the reputation is born.

That record is actually more in line with conventional thinking: over the long haul, most teams are usually around .500 in close games (be it the one-score variety in football, one-run games in baseball, or basketball games that finish within 3 points).

This year, the Seahawks are 8-2 overall, and 7-1 in one-score games. So, the fear would be (as they talked about on the Brock & Salk podcast this past week) the dreaded Regression To The Mean. If you expect most teams to be right around .500 in these situations, then you might expect a rash of one-score losses to be coming in these final six games. But, as everyone always talks about, it’s such a small sample size in football of 16 regular season games; therefore anomalies abound. So, if this year the Seahawks are an anomaly, maybe that regression hits in 2020; but of course, there’s so much turnover in the NFL that it’s effectively an entirely new team from year to year, so I don’t really know how much regression will play into this at all.

TL;DR: it’s all a fucking crapshoot.

The more interesting thing is how the Seahawks finish their seasons in the Russell Wilson Era. From Week 11 through Week 17, the Seahawks are 34-13 in this span, which is absolutely phenomenal. I don’t know where that ranks among all the teams in the NFL, but that’s a .723 winning percentage (whereas overall, the Seahawks have a regular season winning percentage of only .674 since Russell Wilson joined the team). So, there’s just no arguing that overall, the Seahawks are a better team closing out the year than they are to start.

Now, of course, 2016 and 2017 weren’t great, but pobody’s nerfect.

Anyway, here we are, closing out the month of November. Coming off of our BYE week. Hitting the road, going to Philly, who’s coming off of a difficult loss to the Patriots last Sunday. Shit’s getting real for everyone. The Seahawks are one game behind the 49ers for the division lead, and we’re tied with Green Bay and New Orleans in the conference standings. How we wrap up these final six games will determine if we’re in the playoffs or not, as well as if we’re division winners, or even in the Top 2 in the NFC. Our very championship hopes and dreams hinge on these final regular season games.

If you thought our game against the 49ers was intense, just you wait.

Which brings me back to the other point made on Brock & Salk: the infamous point differential. The Seahawks are only +21, which is more in line with a 5-4-1 record than it is the one we have now. As we’ve seen with recent Mariners seasons (when they were improbably contending for a wild card spot, not 2019), the chickens come home to roost over the long haul if you’ve got a great record and a mediocre point/run differential. But, again, as I just got done talking about: small NFL sample sizes.

Also: the Seahawks have Russell Wilson and you guys don’t.

If this is the time of year where the Russell Wilson-led Seahawks traditionally start picking things up (which we’ve established that it is), and these 2019 Seahawks continue that trend (which we all pray that they do), then we should start seeing some more lopsided scores in our favor, to push that point-differential out to a more respectable number. So we’re NOT having to rely on all of these close, one-score games!

Unfortunately, the opponents don’t get any easier, and that starts with Philly this weekend. Sure, the Eagles are only 5-5, and their only path to the playoffs appears to be a divisional battle with the 6-4 Cowboys, but they’re a quality, veteran team with good coaching that’s had recent success in the playoffs and Super Bowl; this is a team that also generally finishes their seasons better than they start them.

Kind of an unstoppable force against an immovable object situation.

The 2019 Eagles thus far have been – to my fantasy dismay – pretty underwhelming on defense, particularly in the secondary where they’ve been shredded by most teams they’ve played. Until last week (when I conveniently traded for Tom Brady in fantasy, of course), when they held the Pats in check and generally made life miserable for them on offense. Of course, the Eagles have also been pretty underwhelming on offense this year (last week was no exception), but then again so have the Seahawks on defense.

Until that 49ers game. So, which Seahawks defense will we be getting the rest of the way? Will it be from the first nine weeks? Or, the vastly improved unit we saw in Santa Clara a couple Mondays ago?

If that’s the defense we get, I think this Sunday’s game against the Eagles will be no contest. But, if our defense reverts back to sucking, and the Eagles’ defense keeps up what they started last week (which was, for them, coming off of a BYE, where presumably key guys had since gotten healthy on that side of the ball), then this game is going to be a lot closer – and a lot more difficult to win – than we’ve come to expect.

This game is no sure thing, in other words. Also: what else is new?

The Eagles started out this week as 2.5-point favorites. That line has since moved to 1.5; nevertheless it feels wrong for them to be favored. I don’t think Vegas quite trusts that the Seahawks’ defense has turned a corner, and I don’t blame ’em.

The Eagles are hurting at receiver. Honestly, believe what their fans say when they rant on Twitter about how they let Josh Gordon fall to us, because they definitely could use him (and definitely could afford him). Nevertheless, they’re quite strong at tight end, and that’s where the Seahawks’ defense tends to be weakest. I would expect big games out of both Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. They’re also banged up at running back, but Miles Sanders has the potential to be special. Carson Wentz isn’t my favorite fantasy quarterback at the moment, but he’s as capable as anyone (you have to at least put him in the top half of all QBs from a talent perspective, which is plenty good enough to beat this defense, even when we’re rolling).

I nevertheless would expect the Seahawks to win this game. I picked them in my weekly pick ’em contest, and if I were in a sportsbook I’d put a decent amount of money on us to win on the moneyline. I never know what to expect out of a Seahawks game, but this should prove to be a solid indicator of things to come. If the Seahawks win in a rout, then the End Of Season Roll should be in full effect. We should see a drastic improvement in our point-differential, and could make a serious charge at one of the top two seeds in the NFC. If the Seahawks win a tight one, then maybe that’s just who this team is, and they’ll have to continue to pull these nailbiters out of their collective asses to get us to where we want them to be by season’s end.

And, if the Seahawks lose … all bets are off. I don’t want to even think about what might happen if that’s the case. Like a rock n’ roller with no backup plan: it’s either the bigtime, or dead in a ditch; there is no Plan B (which, in this case, would be sneaking into the playoffs as a wildcard and losing in the first round in Dallas like last year).

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2019: Fucking Sick Of This Shit

On Saturday night, I asked my brother who he would start: Robert Woods or Jamison Crowder. I ended up going with Woods because I paired him with Kupp and I liked at least ONE of those guys to go off against the Bears. I didn’t expect the Rams to continue to look so fucking inept on offense. And I CERTAINLY didn’t expect Woods to be a surprise healthy scratch because of some personal issue that we weren’t privy to until maybe an hour or two before gametime; when ALL of my other players were fucking dead to me.

I ended up dropping Darius Slayton for Sammy Watkins, going for the Chiefs on Monday Night. I could’ve had Josh Reynolds, but the Chiefs receiver looked like the safer play. High-flying offense against a mediocre defense, surely would do the trick! It ended up not mattering either way.

Of course, the rest of my team fucking SUCKED. I got a combined 27 points out of Brady and Wentz which fucking murdered me. So, I went into the Monday Night game essentially tied with my opponent. He had Rivers, I had Watkins. Tyreek Hill even got injured for me pretty early on to help out the cause! But, Watkins is fucking over the hill and useless from a fantasy perspective, so he got me 4.6 points. Rivers was totally fucking worthless as well, but at least through his 4 interceptions he still managed 9.65. I lost to Sloane N Steady 138.89-133.50. If I’d played Crowder, I would’ve won.

Honestly, the main reason I didn’t play him is because he’d already had two good games in a row; what were the odds a Jets receiver would have THREE in a row? I also thought the Redskins’ defense was slightly frisky (they’re not). Plus, I got burned the week prior when I tinkered with my lineup on a Saturday night; now I’ve been burned by NOT tinkering. I can’t do anything right.

I truly, truly fucking hate this game. It ruins every weekend for me. I don’t know why I keep playing fantasy football. I hope the league disbands and I never have to play again.

***

I’m now 5-6, in 8th place out of 10 teams, two spots out of the playoffs. I’ve underperformed my projections in 9 out of 11 weeks now. I’m down to the 8th most points scored and what does it even fucking matter how many I’ve had scored against me? I should be on a 5-game winning streak, but my team fucking shits the bed at every turn. There are two more weeks. I somehow still have an outside shot – as there are two other 5-6 teams ahead of me in total points – but I need help. I think I’ve got a decent shot of going 1-1 in the final two weeks of the regular season, which means I need both teams ahead of me to lose out. It can be done, but it would be the silliest back-door entry into the playoffs anyone’s ever seen.

***

I immediately dropped Sammy Watkins on Tuesday morning because fuck that turd. I didn’t put any waiver claims out there because honestly I don’t know. I wasn’t inspired. Nobody out on the scrap heap looked better than my guys; at least no one I’d want to go to any trouble for. The rest of the league was pretty active. I waited until Wednesday morning, then re-claimed Darius Slayton off of Free Agency, dropping Robert Woods. That guy seems like bad luck from a fantasy perspective, and if I’m gonna be out of it, I might as well go down with a rookie with high upside. Who knows, maybe in the Consolation Bracket playoffs, I’ll start him and Danny Dimes and watch them do their things.

I’m also thinking it’s time to drop A.J. Green. He’s been on my bench/IR spot all season, but lately it’s more trouble than it’s probably going to be worth. He keeps reverting back to ineligible for the IR spot – because he’s effectively week-to-week – but it’s looking less and less likely that he’s going to ever return. Besides that, the Bengals are obviously in Lose-Now mode by going with the younger QB (who sucks), so what upside does Green have even if he DOES come back for the fantasy playoffs? Probably not much. Certainly not more than Kupp or Crowder or any of the receivers I could pick up off waivers. So, before Sunday, I could see myself making another roster move; but at this point I don’t see myself using up a waiver claim unless someone special pops up.

***

My lineup is pretty set at this point for the stretch run. I’ve got Brady vs. Dallas and Wentz vs. the Seahawks. They should be okay. My running backs are really the only guys not totally letting me down; Zeke, Bell, and Jacobs all have decent-to-good matchups. The Disappearing Cooper Kupp has to face Baltimore’s ravenous defense on Monday Night, so let’s hope I’m somehow able to lock things up before then. I actually am going to start Crowder this week at home against the Raiders, WHAT ARE THE ODDS HE HAS FOUR GOOD GAMES IN A ROW??? Pretty fucking negligible, I’d say. Then, there’s Waller, Tucker, and Buffalo hosting Denver, so whatever.

My Space Pirates are going up against our biggest nemesis: Space Forcin’. I’m catching him on a Mahomes BYE – which was really my only hope of beating him – but the rest of his team is still stacked, led by Kamara, Davante Adams, Tyler Lockett, and Zach Ertz who will absolutely dominate the Seahawks this week.

Did I mention I fucking hate fantasy football? I wish everyone was dead.

Husky Basketball Chugs Along

It might’ve been a little unreasonable to be perfect against the big dogs they’re playing in this non-conference schedule. I could kinda see the loss to Tennessee coming a mile away, even though I knew nothing about them (and still don’t, because I don’t have ESPN+). We earned a little respite with our victory over Baylor. We’re still a young team, still trying to find our footing, figure out our rotations, see what works best, etc.

We dropped to 25th in the nation, which feels about right. Thankfully, last night’s game against Maine was Dunk Central, so hopefully at least those Naz Carter highlights will keep us in a positive light nationally.

I can already tell that 3-point shooting is going to be a talking point with this team for a bit. Right now – as a team – we’re hitting just a tick over 30%. We’ll want that to steadily rise as the season goes along, to where we can reliably hit from long range when the Tournament comes.

Some interesting trends this early in the season. Naz Carter is definitely the unquestioned leader out of the gate. He’s getting the lion’s share of the meat on this carcass. But, nothing works on this team without Isaiah Stewart down low. He’s definitely the best player on this team right now. The true wildcard is Jaden McDaniels, who looks like he has the highest ceiling of anyone on the Huskies, and also looks like the natural floor general in crunch time, when the chips are down and we need a bucket. As far as Big 3’s go, this could be the best trio we’ve had in a long time, especially if Naz Carter can continue hitting outside shots (he’s 6/13 on the season so far).

What’s still to be determined is our production around those guys. Quade Green has had a semi-rough start, but I love the work ethic and the confidence. I think, before too long, we’ll see him settle into a nice groove. Hameir Wright is improving his outside shot pretty consistently since when he first started with the Huskies a couple years ago. I think he’s the perfect role player for this team, and someone fully capable of hitting a big shot if needed.

That more or less comprises our starting five, but will there be a bench to speak of? I’m not gonna lie, I think I expected more of Jamal Bey given how well he played down the stretch last year. Again, it’s incredibly early, but I hope he’s able to continue progressing. Because, when the one-and-doners are gone after this year, we’re going to need him to step in and fill some pretty significant shoes.

I’m pretty happy with this stretch of games we’ve got coming up (starting with last night, really). It was hard coming out of the gate playing Baylor (now 24th, with a 2-1 record) and Tennessee (now 20th, with a 3-0 record) so early, but we got over that hump with the record we NEEDED (at least one victory), and now we can coast for a couple weeks (all at home) against some inferior opponents. Let’s fatten that win/loss record, let’s pad some stats, and let’s give this team the experience they need combined with the success they crave.

Because undefeated Gonzaga is on the horizon. December 8th, Hec Ed; it’s gonna be an absolute blast. I think we’ve all had this game circled since last year’s near-victory in the Bulldogs’ home gym. That’ll be a real signature win in a season that’s starting to go places.

2019 Husky Football Hits The Home Stretch

It’s been a disappointment any way you slice it. We’re 6-4 which is at least two losses too many, and quite frankly even TWO losses would be a disappointment! I mean, the more games that have been played by the rest of the Pac-12 schools, the worse it looks.

I don’t know if anyone’s all that surprised that the Huskies lost to the two Pac-12 teams currently ranked in the Top 10, but the fact they were both home games is pretty galling (aside from the fact that one of those teams is the Ducks, and fuck the Ducks). Also, I mean, 1-3 at home in conference play overall is ABSOLUTELY unacceptable.

But, going deeper, the loss early to Cal was rough, but they supposedly had an elite defense, so it halfway made sense. That team is now 5-5 (2-5 in conference, which is actually worse than us somehow), has won one of their last six games, and is in actual danger of not making a bowl game.

Then, there’s the Stanford loss; that team is now 4-6 and 3-5 in conference play (also somehow worse than us; how that’s possible I have no idea). The Cardinal will have to beat Cal and Notre Dame to get to bowl eligibility, so that’s not happening.

We could nevertheless be talking about losses to two teams who won’t be playing in a bowl game. What world am I living in?

Meanwhile, the Huskies got to six wins down in Oregon State, which is probably our second-best win of the season? That’s absolutely tragic; even then, we’re talking about a 19-7 game where our defense finally showed up to play 10 games into the season. Our offensive coordinator, however, is still the butt of every single joke among Husky fans, because if he’s not the absolute worst, he’s at least top 5. In what category, you ask? Take your fucking pick.

This week, we go down to Colorado for a night game, after our second BYE in four weeks. So, we should be plenty rested, anyway. And the Buffs are terrible, so I would HOPE we’ll walk all over ’em. Don’t be so sure, because Bush Hamdan no doubt has plenty of wildcat calls on 3rd & short to be stuffed! If not them, then easy out routes for the opposing defense to jump for more pick-sixes! Let’s not let our big-armed quarterback do what he does best: throw deep down field. Let’s keep dinking and dunking to receivers who can’t hold onto the ball because they were too used to catching wobblers from Jake Browning and don’t know what it’s like to catch a pass from an actual NFL-calibre quarterback!

The good news is, with this game followed by the Apple Cup (against the 2-5 – in conference – Cougs), the Huskies SHOULD get to 8 wins on the season. The bad news is that we might get too GOOD of a bowl game, and thus Chris Petersen won’t have a chance to improve upon his shabby bowl record with the Huskies. It’s becoming a thing, you see. All these bowl losses. Don’t think we haven’t noticed.

If you couldn’t tell, I’m glad this season is almost over. It’s tainting other things that should be bringing me more joy. Let’s finish this thing and move on to next year as soon as fucking possible.

Seattle Sports Hell’s Gambling Corner

I’ll be going to Vegas on December 14th. Just a quick weekend trip, to try to not lose all my money on sports gambling, see a live NHL game, maybe worm our way into the big UFC fight at whatever arena they’re doing it in. Should be a good time!

So, in our run-up to that weekend, my buddy and I have been throwing out fake bets every week to try to hone our craft. We’ve dabbled in teases, parlays, moneyline parlays, over/unders, and just your general regular point-spread bets. It’s been a mixed bag, and I know anything can happen in any given week, but I feel like I’m making some real progress in my way of thinking about these things.

I was all over the Jets last weekend. For some ungodly reason, the Redskins were favored by 1.5 points, which makes no sense because their quarterback doesn’t even know the playbook! He’s looked as bad and as unprepared as anyone has ever looked, and I know it never feels great putting your hard-earned fake money on a team like the Jets, but they absolutely should’ve had no problem getting the win in that game. Lo and behold, count one for the good guys!

Of course, by the same token, I loved the Steelers on the moneyline, who were getting points against the Browns. The Browns have now been favored for 2 straight weeks against some quality defenses (the Bills the week before) and have covered both games, which is interesting because coming into that Bills game, the Browns were a whopping 2-6 and looked dead in the water. My radar was flagged when they were favored against the Bills, like Vegas knew something the rest of us didn’t. Like they were expecting a big Browns bounce-back or something. Here we are, and they’re now 4-6 and were starting to look frisky until that guy murdered that other guy with his own helmet on national television. I think that’s what happened, right? First degree premeditated murder? That’s what everyone’s so God damned up in arms about?

One trend I’ve noticed is Vegas has seriously overestimated the defensive capabilities of the Tampa Bay Bucs. For the last three weeks, their over/unders have been set FAR too low; I’ve fake-bet the over in each of the last three Tampa games and would’ve come out a winner. I want to make sure I track these games for the next few weeks and see who else has shoddy defensive play that we can exploit for big financial gains! And, conversely, which defenses are playing really well, to pound some unders.

I think Dallas’ defense is sneaky terrible. Minnesota’s defense is vastly overrated. Jacksonville might be on the decline and could fall apart at any time. Washington’s defense is, of course, abysmal. Nothing to like about Miami. Houston’s defense could be on the decline as well. Arizona, of course, couldn’t stop a cold (is how I think that phrase goes). On the flipside, maybe Philly’s defense is back? And Atlanta has been particularly frisky in their quest to save Dan Quinn’s job since the BYE.

Anyway, heading into tonight’s game, 7 of the weekend’s games went over, and 6 (including Thursday) went under, which I would presume is exactly where Vegas wants it to be.

I did like Dallas to cover 4.5 points, Buffalo and New Orleans to prevail pretty strongly in their respective games (or, at least knew enough to stay away from Miami and Tampa). I liked Oakland in any tease you wanted to put them in, but I also liked them straight up and they didn’t cover the double-digit spread somehow. I also thought Carolina would get right and they looked as bad as can be.

So, let’s get to it. I’ll throw out some of my best bets below for next weekend and we’ll see how I do.

Just to get it out of the way, Thursday Games should be off limits for the purposes of this exercise, but I like to look at them anyway because they can be wacky and if I ever quit my job to gamble on sports full time, I’d like a head start on where I think these games will go. So, let’s look at Houston/Indy. The Texans are at home and favored by 3.5 points. I think Vegas expects a lot of money on Indy with that extra half point. The Colts are good, but banged up. The Texans, on the other hand, just got thrashed by the Ravens. The over/under is 46.5, but I have no good read on that; I would assume a lot of these Thursday games go under just by way of still recovering from the week before. If I had to bet this game, I’d take the Texans. I think they win by 7+.

Oh man, there are so many interesting gambling games this weekend! The one that jumps out at me is Cleveland -10 at home against Miami. Vegas is all in on this Browns resurgence! I think that’s too many points though, especially with the Browns losing their best player for the rest of the year. I think this line moves down a bit before gametime; I’m inclined to go Dolphins. And, if I’m inclined to do that, I’m also inclined to parlay that with the over of 44.5 points. So, maybe one with the Dolphins and the points, and a separate bet parlaying the over. I could also tease the Dolphins and the over, moving 6 points for each, so it’s Miami +16 and over 38.5.

Next up, let’s look at that Tampa game. With an over/under of 54, it looks like Vegas is finally correcting themselves. The interesting thing here is that this game is in Atlanta, and the “lowly” Falcons are favored by 4.5 points. Now, obviously the Falcons have looked excellent the last two weeks – at NO and at CAR – and with that has come a rejuvenated defensive performance from the team. By that token, something has to give here. Either Tampa’s passing attack brings them back down to Earth, or the Falcons continue this improbable run they’ve been on and the under comes into play. In a weird scheduling quirk, this is the third division game out of five in a row for the Falcons (they also host the Saints and Panthers again in the next two weeks). I don’t know how that plays into this, but any information is good information, I suppose. Part of me wonders if the Falcons haven’t stumbled onto something; but also they can’t be this good and these good vibes have to end sometime! This game is probably a stay-away for me, but I think if anything this game probably goes under for Tampa for the first time since I’ve been tracking this.

Okay, here’s an easy tease: Pittsburgh at Cincy is favored by 6.5; New England at home vs. Dallas is favored by 6.5. Tease Pittsburgh and New England down to 0.5, to where they just have to win their respective games. I think the Steelers’ defense is good enough to hold Cincy at bay, and I think the Pats are simply better-coached than the Cowboys. That should be an easy 2-team tease right there.

Here’s another tease that might float your boat: New Orleans at home is giving 9 to Carolina; the Bears at home are giving the Giants 7. Tease the Saints to 3 and the Bears to 1. The Bears’ defense is good enough by itself to get that win over a pretty terrible Giants team; at worst I think this ends up being a push if the Saints only win by a field goal. You can also mix & match these with my Pittsburgh and/or New England teasers.

Underdog Watch! How can you not like the Seahawks getting 2.5 points in Philly after a week off? The Seahawks under Pete Carroll generally come out with a win in games leading up to and immediately following their BYE. You could take the Seahawks on the moneyline, or you could take the points and I wouldn’t be mad atcha; this one should be close regardless. With an over/under of 49, I could certainly see this one going over, but I don’t know if the Seahawks’ defense has turned a corner or not. I wouldn’t bet the under, because I think you’re going to be clenching your buttcheeks for 3+ hours, so probably stay away from that one and just take the Seahawks and the points.

In Irrational Homer picks, I have a doozy. I’ve been saying this for two weeks and I’m ready to quadruple-down on it here: the Packers are going to San Francisco and they’re getting 3.5 points. Not only do I think the cover is a mortal lock, I think the Packers will actually come away with the win. So, bet the Packers on the moneyline to your heart’s content!

Finally, I’ll present Steven’s Stay-Aways, the games I won’t touch with a 10-foot pole. I want no part of Tennessee (-2.5) vs. Jacksonville. I don’t like anyone crossing multiple time zones, so don’t talk to me about Oakland (-3) at the Jets. And, God help me if I change my mind and put money on Detroit (-3) at Washington (unless you like over 41.5, because I think these defenses are both pretty crappy; you know what, put a hundo on the over!).

As usual, I’m a degenerate. Happy gambling everyone!

The Seahawks Can Be Legitimate Super Bowl Contenders

Last week, I prattled on and on about why the Monday Night game would be so important for the Seahawks’ chances. Ultimately, I believed that the Seahawks SHOULD be making a push for an NFL championship, but their defense would be their downfall.

What this blog post presupposes is … maybe the defense is okay?

It’s a lot more fun living in a world where the Seahawks are 8-2. It’s not ideal, but when have we ever had an ideal Seahawks season? Even in 2013, our biggest obstacle was right in our own (relative) back yard with the 49ers; here we go again.

The best part is, everything I wrote about the 49ers last week is still true; they’re still heading into – BY FAR – the toughest stretch of their schedule. And, now they’re heading into it with a loss under their belts. It’s not remarkably easier for the Seahawks, so I’m not clapping my hands together in a job well done – there’s still a lot of work to do in our own garden – but it’s far easier to foresee a scenario where the Seahawks and 49ers are playing for both a division title and a Top 2 seed in the NFC in Week 17. In a game that Seattle will host, that will almost certainly be flexed to the 5pm time slot.

There’s still so much to unpack from that Monday Night game that I didn’t really touch on. For starters, either team would’ve been lucky to come out of there with a win; really, if a game ever deserved to end in a tie, it was probably that one. I tend to focus on all the things the Seahawks did to try to throw that game away – Wilson’s interception, D.K.’s fumble, Penny’s fumble, Wilson’s fumble-turned-Ifedi’s-fumble-turned-49ers’-touchdown, the interceptions Wright and Wagner and Flowers (off the top of my head) dropped that could’ve sealed the victory – but there were tons of things the 49ers did wrong that should’ve sealed the deal (and eventually DID seal the deal) for the Seahawks (again, those near-picks, Clowney’s fumble return for a TD, the other Jimmy G fumble, the countless drops from his receivers who were afraid of getting punished by our hard-hitting safeties, and of course the missed field goal in overtime). One thing that’s tough to shake is what that game would’ve looked like if Kittle was healthy, or if Sanders had played the entire game (take nothing away from the Seahawks on that one, because our guys were hitting HARD on defense).

And that gets me back to the point of this BYE-week post. The Defense. My personal whipping boy pretty much all year. From the beginning, I’ve held the opinion that this side of the ball would get better as the season progressed, and that when we get into this very stretch we’re in right now, we’d be looking at something downright respectable! Well, if I’d only listened to September-Me, I wouldn’t have to backtrack so much abuse I’ve heaped upon these guys in the last few weeks.

Now, of course, some of them deserve it. Ezekiel Ansah looks beyond washed up. I think Pete Carroll said he’s undersized from the weight he was at in his prime, but he looks overweight and slow to me, so something doesn’t check out. Clearly, he wasn’t able to work out the way he would’ve liked this past offseason, with the injury he was recovering from, and it shows on the field. He’s a ZERO, bringing absolutely nothing to the table. At this point, he’s blocking someone like Shaquem Griffin, who HAS to have a higher immediate upside in the pass rushing department.

I loved that move, by the way. I thought it was the most inspired thing the Seahawks have done on defense all year. Jadeveon Clowney was a man possessed against the 49ers, and an obvious choice for Defensive Player of the Week; that might be the best single defensive performance we see in the NFL all year! But, he’s been rock solid all season; he’s also been the benefactor of near-constant double teaming by opposing offenses, and rightly so. He’s obviously the only guy on the Seahawks’ D-line that anyone has to worry about, so shifting protection his way SHOULD be priority number 1 for most teams. With Ansah doing nothing, combined with Rasheem Green, Quinton Jefferson (who’s also been battling injuries most of the year), and anyone else you’ve put opposite Clowney (L.J. Collier, where you at?), I mean, the Seahawks had to do SOMETHING. Shaquem Griffin has been languishing on Special Teams his entire career, he was a primary pass rusher in college, why not at least give him a shot?

And, I get it, he’s probably a liability against the run. So, don’t put him in those situations. I hate to say it, but maybe be a little more predictable! Just use Griffin on 3rd downs and in otherwise obvious pass rushing situations. Let him use his speed off the edge to try to – if not get to the quarterback – at least redirect him in the pocket. Make him move around, get off his spot, delay his throw, and hopefully miss his intended target. Sacks aren’t the be-all, end-all in pass rushing.

Anything is better than what we’ve been seeing out of this defense, which has been a lot of quarterbacks with enough time to make giant party subs in their respective pockets!

I don’t know if Griffin is the solution, but he’s a step in the right direction. With Clowney playing at a D-POY level, I don’t think you NEED the other guys to be superstars; you just need them to be competent and improve week-by-week. Jarran Reed coming back and getting into the swing of things certainly helped against the 49ers. That, in turn, helped the play of Poona Ford and Al Woods; the more teams have to worry about Reed, the more that’s going to open things up for the other tackle next to him. Hopefully, this will all lead to the younger guys opposite Clowney to incrementally improve, to the point where they’re making an actual noticeable impact by season’s end.

Another one of my whipping boys has been Bobby Wagner, and the linebackers in general. Mostly, I’m lamenting the lack of huge impact plays by these guys. They’re doing everything else they’re supposed to do, but we haven’t really seen them flash all too often. There’s been a play here and there from Kendricks. Wagner finally started to assert himself more against the 49ers. Wright still looks like someone who’s probably on his final legs, and I’d like to see Cody Barton mixed in there a bit more to at least see what we have in him. But, for the most part, Wright is one of this team’s primary leaders, and he’s not going anywhere, at least not this year.

And, for the first time all year, there’s actual reason for hope when it comes to the secondary. Shaquill Griffin is still playing at an elite level, so no worries there. Quandre Diggs made his debut and looked fantastic! I guess he got the start at free safety, but he was hitting dudes out there like a strong safety. Combined with a healthy Bradley McDougald, I think that could really settle things down in the defensive backfield; here’s hoping they can just stay out there. Tre Flowers still has room to improve, and I keep feeling like it’s going to break out for him any game now. The nickel is still a huge area of concern, so the team is going to have to coach guys up and scheme this problem into irrelevance.

All year, everyone’s been saying that we don’t expect this defense to return to its L.O.B. roots. With how great the offense is, just Middle of the Road would be fine! Teams constructed like this – with a smart coaching staff behind them – can ABSOLUTELY win championships! We’ve seen worse defenses than this one go all the way. But, a little improvement never hurt anyone.

The 49ers game was the best this defense has played all year; if we can stay right around that level, the sky is the limit.

There were calls from the more optimistic sect of Seahawks fans prior to the 49ers game calling for fans to lighten up. I believe Hawkblogger himself said it’s okay to believe. I wasn’t there with him; the 49ers looked too daunting. Turns out they’re human, like all the teams in the NFL. In that respect, the Seahawks are as good as any of the contenders out there. I’m ready to finally start believing. I won’t make us frontrunners; but we’re as good or better than the 49ers, Saints, Packers, Cowboys, and any other NFC team you throw our way.

The Seahawks are IN this thing! It’s gonna be a fun final six weeks.